Living in Fear: Being Pressured into Following Society

By: Zeina El Mofty and Ali Sakr

In case you don’t know me already, my name is Narrator and today I’ll be your guide in a world you can’t possibly imagine. Unless you just use your head, I mean, honestly, how creative are we anyway? Allow me to start from the top. Galaxy: Juicy Way. Planet: Soil. Gender roles: reversed. Don’t get me wrong, though, dudes don’t get pregnant. Females just give birth like it’s any other day. They get back to work 30 minutes after labor, I mean, they’re the family’s source of money after all. On the other hand, your average male is a stay-at-home dad. Don’t judge them, sibling, we all know what it feels like to be pressured into following society. It’s not their fault that’s how their society is – it’s just our fault for allowing it to exist in the first place. It’s about time we free ourselves from the shackle that is meeting society’s expectations. We just have to convince every single living human to change the way they live their lives forever. No pressure.

4:03AM – Hospital for Troubled Youth

I’d describe a dead silent hallway right now, but honestly, I feel like I’m about to throw up, so I’ll just say the hallway was silent. Dead silent. She was scrolling through her feed, hospital gown on, legs spread. He was standing beside her, knees weak, palms sweaty, mom’s okay though. “Can you get this over with already, my lunch break is about to end.”

After five minutes of constant worrying and reassurance, an infant’s cry is followed by a grown man’s scream. This here moment marks the beginning of our ever so perplexing story – the life of a boy named “Girl”.

Early Life – The More the Merrier

“That’s not how it works, Girl. You need to work in a group.”

“I don’t like groups. I like to work alone.”

“I just said that’s not how it works. What about all your friends? Don’t you want to work with any of them?”

“They didn’t come today.”

“We only have two absents.”

“Yeah, those are my friends.”

“Just two?!”

Just two. Girl didn’t have many friends, and frankly he was okay with it. He actually preferred it that way, but pretty much everyone around him didn’t. And so, it began. The pressure to fit in. We inflict it so early on to even children, because we lack any other means of judgement. He grows up thinking he’s an anomaly, not because he actually is one, but because his nature doesn’t fall into the confines of his society. He lives a childhood of fear, and a life quite broken.

Teen Time

Acne’s popping, playgirls flirting, guys obsessing over them – yeah you guessed it, the teen years have come. Then we’ve got Girl, a boy who’s grown into a strong confident young man. I hope you didn’t believe that because it’s not true at all. Girl, at the moment, is at his peak of teen rebellion. He even rebels against his own thoughts, convincing himself he doesn’t care he’s not as beautiful as all the other guys. One way or another, though, he will stop deceiving himself, and that is when the games begin.

For these games, as teens always do, they go primal. You know, survival of the fittest. And if the odds are not in your favor, well, good luck, because unless you hit the gym and have a nice face, you aren’t surviving. As cruel as this teenage world might seem, it’s once again, not entirely their fault. When you’re bombarded by unrealistic depictions of how your average Joe should look from all sides of the media, it’s not exactly in your hands to form a mental image that is actually realistic. These images then become goals, and ultimately societal expectations and prerequisites to be successful members of the community. It’s then only natural that in the most impressionable part of a human’s life, they’ll tend to try to meet these “needs”, all simply to feed their actual need to fit in.

Now, back to Girl, his parents weren’t the most lenient. “No boy goes out on weekdays” they claim. He wasn’t surprised though, decided he might as well read since he has nothing else to do now. It’s okay. It’s always okay with him. Well, that was until his dad tells him to stop the nonsense and go help with laundry. Every. Single. Time. Still okay though. He’s used to it. He’s used to being forced to not do what he likes because his parents think it’s useless. He’s used to not going out with his friends because “these are not the traits of a well raised man”.  He’s used to his parents not appreciating his love for biology and how they think him wanting to be a doctor is dumb. He’s used to everything and I’m sorry for boring you, it was still okay. The only thing that’s never okay though is the fact that his sister gets home every day around midnight, that she’s the family’s pride and her mother’s absolute favorite doctor-to-be. It sucks for him to see how much his parents are very tolerant with the fact that their daughter is with a new guy every other day and that she just plays with their feelings for the sake of it. Seems like a fault in the society – are you starting to see a trend here?

Despite the frustration tugging at his shoulders, Girl tried to stay strong – he tried to stay optimistic about how things would turn out, but he just couldn’t take it anymore. It’s not just about going out or his sister or any of that – it’s far more. Girl – and almost any other teenager, really – is supposed to be able to not only be a jack of all trades, but a master of all trades as well. To excel at school – even when they’re expected not to work, play sports and be fit, look good but not spend too much time worrying about appearances, have hobbies and a social life, but not take any time from education, how many hours would they actually need each day? Colleges and jobs are becoming so competitive that even high school students are unable to live their presumably “best days”, without cramped up schedules and again, more and more expectations.

It ends, though, it always ends. Adult life is undeniably better, right?

Big Boy World

Compelled no longer by teenage hormones and primal competitions, adult life strikes like a bolt of lightning, igniting a fire that should’ve probably remained unlighted. All the ambitions and dreams start manifesting into goals, only to be faced by the crushing reality of – you guessed it – more society! It’s like this is what we’re trying to get at here – quite weird really.  Anyway, Girl is no longer little, but now a fully grown, strong independent man. Through his own eyes at least. HIs parents, though, not so much.

It’s not that he doesn’t want to, but Girl was sick of it. He was sick of how much his uncles and dad keep nagging and emphasizing that Girl‘s too old not to be married by now. All his cousins are happily in serious relationships, which in Mom’s opinion, means nothing except that her son is unworthy. Needless to say, that brings her and the whole family shame. A usual argument that happens between Girl and his mother almost daily about his relationship life and how him going to work is, as usual, is useless and a waste of time, is always followed by an argument whether about him not being a good son or mostly bringing up his cousin Lucy and how she’s single, rich and from a decent family (obviously). So yeah, Girl‘s life isn’t getting any prettier. Awesome 🙂

It’s almost as though, the adult life isn’t really easier? Shocker.

***

So, it’ll never change. No matter the alternate universe, galaxy, world, or timeline, society will always be the way it is. There will forever be unrealistic expectations and underlying themes you have to succumb to. There will always be some rule you don’t understand or some general formula you have to follow. And while rebelling is always exciting, you can’t rebel against an entire society, not alone. For now, let’s just go back. Galaxy: Milky Way. Planet: Earth. Gender roles: back to normal. Society: still messed up. Us? We’re fine. We’re always fine. We will always live in fear, knowing not whether we will ever be able to satisfy both ourselves and this godforsaken earth. The trick here is that there’s no trick. It’s simply a matter of time, so kick back, relax and be as afraid as it is physically possible. When it really comes down to it, though, no pressure.

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